ALAN Pardew has promised not to upset the balance of his squad after a win inspired by the survivors of last summer's overhaul.
Leon Best scored the only goal as Queens Park Rangers started life under new manager Mark Hughes with a 1-0 defeat.
An away win looked the most likely outcome until an injury to summer signing Yohan Cabaye left Newcastle United with a team including 10 of last season’s squad.
That did not escape Pardew, hoping to buy James Tomkins, Ravel Morrison and Mevlut Erdinc this month.
“A lot of these players did the job for us at the back end of last season,” he stressed.
(Danny) Guthrie’s come away as the man of the match and Best’s got the goal and that will give us confidence going forward.
“There’s money available to me and I think we’ll take a player if we think they will work for us, financially and for the team. I’ve got a really tight bunch here, we’ve got (Hatem) Ben Arfa coming alive, making little cameos and getting stronger. His work-rate was terrific, and (his play) defensively.
“We find ourselves sixth above Liverpool after 21 games and not (only) because of what happened yesterday. It’s about the next period of games. If we can get a couple of wins before the lads come back from the African (Cup of) Nations, we’ll get a huge boost.” Senegal’s Demba Ba and Ivorian Cheick Tiote could be missing until mid-February. Only on their return will Pardew feel ready to set his team a target for the run-in.
“That question will be better answered when we get through this period without two great players, because Cheick and Ba are great players,” he said.
“We’ve overcome two hurdles since they’ve been away – Blackburn, which was a tough game we won and we won again yesterday, so so far flying colours.” Cabaye was stretchered off after 25 minutes, victim of a lunging Shaun Derry tackle. Yesterday’s referee, Chris Foy, booked Derry having controversially sent off Vincent Kompany seven days earlier. Pardew played down any concerns over Cabaye’s fitness.
“He looks okay to me, the doctor said we might scan him, we might not, so it isn’t an injury we think is going to give us a problem going forward,” he said.
“It must not overshadow the fact that after he went off the guys did a terrific job. It wasn’t one of those games that was hugely entertaining and enthralling but on a professional front it was a really accomplished game from us.
“We didn’t start well, we changed the system. Best got the goal and Ben Arfa was absolutely terrific. We just did enough to get us over the line.
“It (the tackle on Cabaye) was a strong challenge. He’s a player who makes strong challenges and I thought the ref was right on top of it. I thought it was borderline yellow/red but probably a yellow. Yohan was upset but he seems like he’s going to be okay.
“A few heavy tackles went in on us, but the referee conducted himself well and I thought he got those calls right.”
Best’s fourth goal this season was his first since September 17. “I think that goal will be very important to him,” said Pardew. “He only had one real chance and he finished it with real confidence.”
Anton Ferdinand wore the captain’s armband for QPR in the absence of the suspended Joey Barton, but Hughes dismissed rumours the ex-Newcastle midfielder will be sold this month.
“It’s maybe a mischief-making story,” he said. “He’s captain of the club – I’ve reiterated that.”